April 2012

index.html Home    Print    Email

Go to www.ibew.org
Robert Williams

We are saddened to report that retired Eleventh District International Representative Robert Williams died on February 11 at the age of 93.

Born in Dexter, Iowa, Brother Williams, an inside journeyman wireman, served as business manager of Des Moines Local 347 from 1963 to 1976, when he was appointed to the International staff.

A U.S. Navy Seabee veteran of World War II, Williams also served as president of the Iowa State Building Trades and on the state's affirmative action council and higher education commission.

In retirement, Brother Williams enjoyed meeting with other pensioners as a member of Local 347's retiree club, following sports and building model ships. He was a 50-year member of the Auburn-Union Park Masonic Lodge.

The officers and staff send our deep condolences to Zola Williams, Brother Williams' wife of 71 years, and to his son, Lonnie Williams.

Robert Williams

John Amodeo

Third District International Representative John Amodeo retired effective April 1 after four decades of service to the IBEW.

Brother Amodeo was initiated into East Windsor, N.J., Local 827 in 1972, starting as a cable splicer at New Jersey Bell Telephone. With only three months in the shop, IBEW representatives tapped him for a steward position. "They told me that they needed someone with courage to step up and take the job."

It was a fitting move for Amodeo, who grew up in a union, pro-worker household. His father was employed by the railroads as a Transport Workers Union member, and his mother was a welder in the Camden shipyards during World War II.

"My parents made sure that I grew up reading about and understanding labor history," Amodeo said. "I knew about the IWW before I knew about Mickey Mouse."

Brother Amodeo served as the chief steward on the local's general committee, representing 1,200 members in the southern part of the state. Amodeo was active in negotiating contracts and helped organize public workers in Atco and Waterford townships. Following service as chairman of the safety committee and four years on the executive board, he was elected vice president in 1986. In this role, Amodeo represented about 13,000 workers statewide in various fields like manufacturing and government as well as telecommunications. "My goal was always to get the best deal possible for working people," he said.

IBEW President J.J. Barry appointed Amodeo as International Representative in 1988. Amodeo was initially one of two representatives tasked with servicing more than a dozen telecommunications locals, which had a combined membership of nearly 20,000. For the next two decades, he was instrumental in developing and delivering steward trainings while handling grievances, negotiations and arbitrations. One of his largest projects was helping secure a contract for 75,000 IBEW and CWA members working at Bell Atlantic (later Verizon) in the early '90s.

Amodeo earned his bachelor's degree from the National Labor College and his master's in Legal and Ethical Studies from the University of Baltimore. "My training in legal research and writing was directly beneficial to my work for the IBEW," he said. "Typically, the companies we were at the table with would fly in an attorney. I wanted to be able to boost my level of expertise in taking on some of these guys while equalizing the playing field for the members I was representing."

The former Army reservist was vice president of the Camden / Gloucester Central Labor Council. Amodeo's two brothers were also Local 827 members, and Patricia, his wife of 43 years, was a vice president of a CWA local.

Amodeo says that he looks forward to spending more time with Patricia and their daughters Andrea and Gabrielle. He also plans to become more involved in community service, and may continue his hobby as a private pilot.

"Looking back, I don't know that I would have done anything differently," Amodeo said. "I always tried to give 100 percent to the membership and the union."

On behalf of the entire union membership, the officers and staff wish Brother Amodeo a happy, healthy and enjoyable retirement.

John Amodeo

Daniel Hetzel

Seventh District International Representative Daniel Hetzel retired effective March 31, after more than four decades of service to the IBEW.

Brother Hetzel was initiated into Beaumont, Texas, Local 479 in 1969. Enrolled at Lamar University, he initially planned to become a high school coach, but decided to switch gears after comparing a teacher's salary with that of an electrician. "My dad was an IBEW member, and after finding out what he made, I decided to follow him into the field," he says.

He was appointed steward the first year he turned out. "It was a lot easier back then to do the job," he says. "Employers and labor understood that it was in everyone's interest to work together to solve problems in the workplace."

Hetzel became popular on the job and was encouraged by members to run for business manager. "I wasn't sure I wanted to do it," he says. But after talking with fellow Local 479 member Michael Blanchard, Hetzel says he agreed to serve as assistant business manager if Blanchard — who retired as a Seventh District International Representative in 2009 — ran for the top post. Both won.

Brother Hetzel would serve as assistant business manager for eight years, before becoming business manager in his own right in 1993. He says his No. 1 priority as a local leader was jobs. "I focused on working with our contractors to maximize work for Local 479 members," helping to get the local's first market recovery program off the ground.

He was appointed International Representative by International President Edwin D. Hill in 2001. Tasked with servicing construction locals throughout Texas, he worked to help grow the union in the Lone Star State.

In addition to his service to the IBEW, Hetzel served on the Sabine Area Central Labor Council and on the executive board of the Texas AFL-CIO.

While planning to spend more time fishing, golfing and spending quality time with his wife Edna, he says retirement doesn't mean the end of his involvement in the labor movement. "We have a big election coming up, and I will be working with COPE to make sure we stand by candidates who stand by working people," he says. He has one daughter and two grandchildren.

On behalf of the IBEW, the officers and staff wish Brother Hetzel a long, healthy and enjoyable retirement.

Daniel Hetzel

Art Murray

Ninth District International Representative Art Murray retired effective March 1 after more than 40 years of service to the IBEW.

Brother Murray was initiated into Vacaville, Calif., Local 1245 — then located in Walnut Creek — in 1970 after two tours of duty in Vietnam. He spent his time in the service with the Navy Seabees Construction Battalion 10, where his budding construction skills helped serve his fellow servicemen and women.

"I was 19 years old, running crews building bridges and other large structures in Vietnam, and I was in charge of the guys operating pile drivers, cranes and other heavy equipment — as well as the carpenters, plumbers and surveyors," Murray said. "It was an unbelievable experience."

Murray started as a groundman at Pacific Gas and Electric, quickly moving into the lineman apprenticeship program. Before leaving PG&E, he also became certified to work in the gas division — then a rarity for a journeyman linemen.

"My dad was a gas serviceman with PG&E and one of the reasons I joined the IBEW," Murray said. "I knew it would be steady work and a solid career path while raising a family."

Murray served as a shop steward for 15 years before becoming a business representative in 1985. He serviced members at PG&E as well as the growing number of line clearance tree trimmers working for contractors in the area.

He was appointed assistant business manager in 1998. In that role, he represented thousands of members, most of whom worked for his longtime employer, as well as all other private utility members, line clearance tree trimmers, and outside construction workers.

Murray was responsible for coordinating activities for numerous business representatives at the local while overseeing apprenticeship training and health and safety programs and issues.

President Edwin D. Hill appointed Murray International Representative in 2002. Murray's first task was industrial organizing throughout the Ninth District. He later supported five locals in California and Nevada — Los Angeles Local 18; Diamond Bar, Calif., Local 47; Las Vegas Local 396; San Diego Local 465; and Vacaville, Calif., Local 1245.

With 42,000 members spread across various classifications– such as utility, line clearance tree trimming, telecommunications, and outside construction — Murray lived on the road for up to a third of the year traversing the wide western expanse between various locals.

"Some of the most satisfying times as a representative were watching the successful organizing campaigns," he said, pointing to a recent win for 900 workers and new members of San Diego Local 465 at utility Imperial Irrigation District who voted for the IBEW and inked their first contract after a long effort by a dedicated group of workers at IID under the direction of Business Manager John Hunter.

Outside of official union duties, Murray sharpened his skills in labor and health and safety courses at U.C. Berkeley, and he attended the NJATC National Training Institute in Knoxville, Tenn., in the mid '90s, where he became an OSHA 10-hour and 30-hour certified trainer. He was also a Red Cross certified CPR, automated external defibrillator and first aid instructor.

Murray said one of his proudest achievements was his 2001 appointment to the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board by Gov. Gray Davis. In his seven and a half years on the board, he was one of only seven experts responsible for any changes to the state's OSHA rules and regulations.

Murray looks forward to spending more time with his wife Brenda, his three children and five grandchildren. In addition to numerous home improvement projects and rounds on the golf course, Murray plans to travel to "some of the most beautiful parts of the country I've ever seen," such as Hawaii and Wyoming.

On behalf of the entire union membership, the officers and staff wish Brother Murray a long, healthy and enjoyable retirement.

Art Murray